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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jan 21, 2011

I am sure I am not the only one who looks at today’s corn and soybean markets with a certain amount of nervousness.

It is a time to be nervous whether you are selling or buying, producing or consuming.

We often hear when climbing to great heights, “Don’t look down.” It is hard to not look down when you see how high up you are and down is a long way down.

Once these markets have peaked and start down, just how far down will we all go?

I also get nervous because I usually take a defensive position to protect myself against the future. I sell when prices are good because I know a decline is coming.

When prices keep climbing, there is no reason to prepare for the decline because it does not arrive. The market rewards a seller who does nothing. The careless or lazy prosper.

This is too much like enjoying the party with too much drinking while knowing that there will be an inevitable hangover when those lower prices arrive.

The party will come to an end, it always has before. We will be filled with remorse and regret for not thinking ahead.

Once the party ends, then we realize that we were so sure the party was going to continue we got careless. We will commiserate telling each other about the great opportunities we passed by because we thought better ones were coming.

One of my favorite pieces of advice is. “Always take a sure thing.” When deciding between now and the future, if now looks like a good thing, take advantage of it because nobody knows the future.

That is a defensive posture and it is usually sound advice but when things keep getting better and better, then why be defensive? Let the good times roll, right?

What is there to worry about? I do not need to fix my leaky roof because it is not going to rain. I do not need to repair my tractor because I am getting a new one.

That is the position we are in. Why should I sell any grain today when it is going to be higher next week?

As soybean harvest was wrapping up last fall, I was watching new crop soybean prices for next fall. They were at $10, a price I had only imagined for years.

One morning as the markets opened, they had dropped and I thought this is it, the good times are ending. I called my local elevator and sold just under a fourth of next fall’s bushels for $9.95 a bushel.

I thought I was selling before the market went lower and instead, I sold at the low for that day and one of the lows for the fall. Those new crop soybeans are $12.48 today.

I comfort myself with the thought, “What is wrong with $9.95 beans?” The answer is “Nothing.” I took the $9.95 sure thing and $12.48 is not a price until I sign the contract with my purchaser.

New crop corn is $5.18, what should I do about that? That is a sure thing for right now. If I am smart, I should take my own advice. I do not believe I have ever sold $5 corn in the futures.

If things work out right, I could time it for harvest’s end when the corn is dry and deliver it right out of the field for $5 a bushel. What is wrong with that? Nothing.

I see the overnight market is five cents higher, telling me to sit tight and wait. Oh, oh, I just looked again and it is only up three cents. What does that mean?

I will tell you what it means. It means keep a cool head and keep your wits about you. Do what you have done in the past that worked.

Looking down from these heights is probably a good thing to do because it reminds us how high we are and how far down we could fall when things end.

Here is a sure thing: good times never last.

When the Great Train of High Grain Prices leaves the station, I want to be on board. I do not want to be left standing waiting for the next Train of High Grain Prices to arrive, only to find out that train has not only left the station, it may be awhile before the next one arrives, if it at all.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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